|By Jared Paben, The Bellingham Herald,
Wash.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
October 13, 2010 --BELLINGHAM -- A redesigned Fairhaven Harbor development would include a hotel with restaurant and ballroom, more retail space and a reoriented courtyard, under a developer's proposal.
The landowner plans to apply to change an existing permit to allow a hotel. He also plans to ask for a new design permit that reflects changes to the project.
The project would go in the block bounded by Harris and McKenzie avenues and 8th and 9th streets, a block that's been slated for development for years. Neighbors previously appealed city permits for a mixed-use residential and commercial development there, saying it's out of character for the neighborhood. They particularly objected to its height, with one of the buildings rising 85 feet.
Patrick Uy purchased the Fairhaven Harbor property from developers Ted Mischaikov and Rick Westerop. He is planning changes to the project. Development consultant Ali Taysi, who works for Uy, said the changes include:
--Allowing a 100-room hotel. The lobby would be at Harris and 9th, but guest rooms would be throughout the buildings.
--Fewer condo units. In the 85-foot-building, hotel rooms would occupy lower floors, with only 11 condos above.
--The buildings have been moved back 20 feet farther from Padden Creek, west of the property. All buildings would be outside the 100-foot creek buffer.
--The central courtyard has been oriented to face the pedestrian walk along 8th Street.
--The total building footprint of the project would be smaller.
A hotel tenant hasn't been selected for the proposed hotel space. Overall, the changes are "a reduction in terms of impacts," Taysi said.
In August, Uy submitted a request to city planners to extend the expiration date for his planned development contract, a permit that spells out generally what's allowed in the project. Planners approved it. Originally scheduled to expire Dec. 7, 2010, it's now set to expire Dec. 7, 2012.
"Since 2007, I have been attempting to have my intended project financed through commercial lending institutions," he wrote in the extension request. "In the current economic setting, I have not been able to secure reasonable financing, notwithstanding the commercial viability of the project."
The neighborhood association, Fairhaven Neighbors, doesn't have a position on the changes because they haven't yet seen details of the proposal, association President Larry Kimmett said. City planners are working on Fairhaven Neighbors' application for updates to the neighborhood plan, a policy document that spells out guidelines for how the neighborhood should grow. It's unclear how that will affect the project.
Association leaders are not sure what to make of the Fairhaven Harbor proposal, Kimmett said, noting it's a big hotel project in a relatively small downtown in the middle of the plan update.
What: Developers will hold a neighborhood meeting to talk about proposed changes to the Fairhaven Harbor development. Developers are required to hold a meeting before applying to the city.
When: 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 14.
Where: Bellingham Cruise Terminal, 355 Harris Ave. (upstairs in the Dome Room).
Reach JARED PABEN at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-2289. Read his Traffic Blog at blogs.bellinghamherald.com/traffic.
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